How to Clean a Leather Handbag

Everyone has a favorite leather handbag. They are reliable, sturdy, and go with almost anything. Maybe you have had your trusted bag for years, or perhaps you recently bought a leather bag you have had your eye on for months. Either way, you are probably wondering how to clean it. Whether you want to restore your favorite bag or learn how to keep your brand new bag looking new, you landed on the right page. We have done the research for you and are excited to share the best ways to clean and care for leather handbags. 

The most common way to clean a leather handbag is with soap and water. Never use bleach-based cleaners because they will cause permanent damage to leather products. Simply create a mixture of warm water and gentle dish soap, then use a cloth to distribute this solution to the exterior of your bag. Finish by drying off your bag with a separate cloth. Blue Louis Vuitton handbag, How to Clean a Leather Handbag

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When you spend your hard-earned money on an expensive leather bag, it is essential to take good care of it. A high-quality bag can last you years with proper maintenance. It’s such a relief to know that a simple wash can make your favorite bag look brand new. Keep reading if you want to learn some go-to methods for keeping your leather purse looking fresh. 

Can I Wash a Leather Handbag? 

Leather material is very durable. This makes it a great choice for your handbag fabric if you want your purse to be with you for years. However, leather is not invincible to the scuffs and stains that happen with everyday life. Read below to learn different cleaning methods. 

Soap and Water 

This is the go-to method for an overall leather bag wash. You may have let out a gentle scoff when you read “water” as a method for cleaning leather. Water stains are probably half of the reason you are curious about how to clean your bag in the first place. So, why would the very thing causing the uncleanliness of your bag also be the very thing needed to clean it? 

Well, it is important to remember that water stains are caused by large amounts of water soaking into the leather fabric and being left to dry. We are not telling you to dip your purse into a bucket of soapy water, as this would destroy your bag.  

You should first take a dry cloth and rub the stained area of your bag. This gets rid of the large debris particles. Then, mix a small amount of warm water with an even smaller amount of gentle dish soap. Dip a different cloth in this solution, wring the cloth out, and gently rub the stained areas or the entire bag for a thorough clean. Lastly, take a different cloth and pat dry. This should be enough for most small stains and scuff, but sometimes other methods are needed. 

What is the Best Leather Cleaner for Handbags?

For deeper cleaning, a leather cleaning product may be needed. There are plenty of options to choose from. Here are a few that will help you take care of your handbag. Make sure you spot test on an inconspicuous section of your bag before you fully apply any cleaning product. If you are also interested in learning how to wash leather sandals, check out our blog post here. 

Leather Honey Leather Cleaner 

This cleaner is non-toxic and made from all-natural ingredients. It is sold as a concentrated formula, so it should last for a very long time. This also means you have to dilute it every time you use it.

Click here to see this product on Amazon.

Lexol Leather Cleaner 

This versatile leather cleaner is wax-free and oil-free, which helps protect your bag from damage and discoloration. Click here to view this product on Amazon 

Chemical Guys Leather Cleaner 

This cleaner is odorless and colorless. This will make the cleaning experience more enjoyable for you because you will not be breathing in smelly chemical fumes. It is sold with a leather conditioner as well.

Click here to see this product on Amazon. 

What Household Products Can You Use to Clean Leather? 

For those of you who prefer a more DIY approach to cleaning, there are many ways to create your own deeper cleaning solutions from everyday household products. Once again, make sure to spot test before you apply any cleaning method to a larger area. 

Rubbing Alcohol 

Rubbing alcohol can be a great way to remove ink stains or other stains from leather. If you are worried about damaging more delicate leather, dilute the rubbing alcohol. Dip a cloth in your solution, and dab the affected area. It is crucial to dab and NOT rub. Rubbing can create a discolored spot on your bag. For very tough stains, you can leave the rubbing alcohol on overnight and wipe it off in the morning. 

Lemon Juice + Cream of Tartar 

First, combine lemon juice and creme of tartar in a one to one ratio. This will create a paste. Next, grab a cloth and rub the paste on top of the stain in circular motions. After a few minutes, you can look to see if the stain disappeared. If it is still there, continue to rub. You can even leave the paste on overnight if the stain doesn’t seem to be coming out. To complete this DIY leather cleaning process, take a damp cloth and wipe clean.

Cuticle Remover 

This can be used to remove spot stains as well. We want to emphasize you should use non-oily cuticle remover and not nail polish remover. Nail polish remover will damage leather. Simply take a cloth or cotton ball and apply cuticle remover to it. Gently dab it on the stain. Leave it for at least 2 hours. The longer you leave it on, the better it will work. Overnight is best. To finish, wipe off with a damp cloth. 

Leather Hangbags and the Drycleaners 

If all else fails, you can always take your bag to a professional cleaning service. Do some research on your local dry cleaners to see if they advertise bag cleaning services. Drycleaning can be harsh on leather, so it is important to polish your bag after it has been professionally cleaned. 

How Can I Shine My Leather Bag?

Polishing your leather handbag is a great way to keep it looking fresh and new. It also prevents further damage and wears. We highly recommend polishing your leather handbag regularly. This important step provides the moisture leather needs to look its best. 

Leather Polish Products 

There are many leather polishers/conditioners you can buy. Simply follow their application instructions.

This is a great option if you want to buy one. Click here to see it on Amazon 

We also recommend this one. Click here to see it on Amazon 


Homemade Leather Polish 

If you are more interested in a homemade leather polish recipe, we have an option. First, combine two parts linseed oil to 1 part white vinegar. Mix well. Next, use a clean cloth and apply this mixture in circular motions. Then, let it settle on your leather bag for up to 10 minutes. Lastly, buff off with a dry cloth. Extra buffing may be needed depending on how much you applied. You can sub out the linseed oil with coconut oil. 

Homemade leather polishers tend to darken the color of your leather bag, so we want to stress the importance of spot testing before you apply your solution to your entire bag. Now that you have learned how to clean your bag, you can learn about types of bags for women in this blog post

Cleaning and polishing your leather bag regularly is essential if you want to keep it looking like new. Remember soap and water is usually the way to go, but sometimes other methods are needed. If you have read this far, you have plenty of options to choose from, so your bag can soon be restored to an earlier version of itself! Good luck with your leather bag cleaning journey. 


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